Category Archives: Innovation

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unrealized change

Unrealized Change is Always Connected to Opportunity

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“What’s new?” is a common way to strike up a conversation. A common answer, “Not much.” Yet unrealized change is happening all around you.

Thirty years ago, on or around this same calendar date, I got up, went through a brief morning routine of hygiene and breakfast, drove to my office, grabbed some coffee, and started writing code.

At that time, there wasn’t the internet as we know it today. We didn’t have cellular phones, at least not enough to speak about. And if I wanted to read something it probably started with a newspaper, magazine, or book. A real-to-life book, not a digital version.

This morning I got up, walked and fed the dog, popped a K-Cup in the Keurig, grabbed a cookie, and reported to my home office.

My home office is much more like a studio than an office of thirty years ago. Three high-definition cameras surround my workspace, complete with professional-grade shotgun microphones, three lights on tripods, and two-monitors plus one flat-screen TV all surrounding my workspace as I type.

Today I’ll visit one of my university partners while wearing a protective mask, sign some certificates of completion for the participants of an online leadership development training program, and return to my office by Noon.

My afternoon will be spent developing more programs, catching up on some accounting work, and preparing for the delivery of five programs across four days next week.

What’s new?

Not much.

Unrealized Change

I can’t imagine life without change.

People feel strained by what they refer to as information overload.

Many people who are under thirty years of age, the place where this story started, don’t plan to read anything other than the gibberish coming across their 3-inch by 4-inch cellular phone screen.

Much of the workforce won’t go to what might be referred to as a traditional workplace. A human virus plus technology collided and changed things nearly overnight.

More and more people are paid to interpret and dissect information and make decisions or take action based on what they’ve discovered from a digital device than ever before.

Cable television and digital streaming services pour content into homes and workplaces at speeds barely imagined just a few short years ago.

What is known is online shopping is a booming business while traditional retail largely struggles in decline. Thirty years ago, it was called a mail-order company, today its a staple of the economy.

Things are still changing.

Opportunity in Change

What is most useful may not be realizing the number of people you can touch in a single day. The distance that your message, your voice, or image can travel as you work with people in real-time across town, or across the country.

What may be most useful is to recognize the value of change and to determine how you will use it to improve the scope of your life and your work.

Arguably, the pace may have been slower thirty years ago.

So was the opportunity to make a difference.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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project details

Project Details Bring It All To Life

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Are you working on a significant project? Have you revealed the project details?

In the seventh grade, it wasn’t okay to only have the correct answer on the Algebra exam, the teacher insisted that you show your work. On the vocabulary test, you had to express the exact verbiage. Skimpy answers didn’t show comprehension.

In your workplace, giving answers, much like giving your statements about your beliefs, is not always enough. Proving the concept or theory behind the work justifies its validity.

Bringing your ideas forward in the product development meeting, marketing meeting, or the strategic planning session may be more factual and justified when you provide the details. Sometimes the vision for the finished work is hard to believe unless you know the details.

Certainly, there are many situations when it is important to only provide the highest level. Details take time, require energy, and of course, comprehension.

Project Details

When you present the details, you’ve proven your work. Others can follow the logic and get committed because they see what you see. Once they understand, they believe.

Sometimes it isn’t always about history. Sometimes it has never been done before. When you help others follow the logic it brings the picture to life.

Logic often develops from best practices. Components that can stand on their own, and when combined, create a new end result.

Standards apply too. Standards have been proven and feel safe. Outcomes feel more certain and less like an enthusiastic guess.

In many cases the new project isn’t rejected because it was a bad idea or simply won’t work. It is rejected because no one believes in the outcome.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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never been done before

Never Been Done Before, That’s What You Need

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Everyone is forced to change. Some are willing, others are waiting and watching. Do you need to do something that has never been done before?

I’m not sure who deserves credit for this, but there is a saying, “You cannot just do things differently, you must do different things.”

Now is a great time to consider where you stand with different things.

A product built in your garage as a hobby may be cool, but if it never goes to market, it’s not a game changer.

The service model that sets higher expectations yet can’t be replicated as a system will likely implode.

Avoidance, from fear of failure or fear of success will limit what is different every time.

Where are you headed?

Never Been Done Before

Doing what hasn’t been done before requires something extra.

It’s creative, and it requires you and everyone involved to be on the hook. The energy behind it becomes contagious. It is valued, needed, and a game changer.

Trust and relationships will flourish with a game changer. You’ll make something happen.

People who join in near the beginning of the curve will benefit the most.

Those jumping in late will completely miss the power of the curve and may become a statistic for failure. Not because of lack of effort, energy, or ingenuity, but because, it’s been done before.

A starting question is, can you trust yourself?

Are you able to put a product or service to the test and succeed at doing something different?

Will you find your voice, your ideal customer, and possibly create a niche?

Is it different, or really just the same thing done differently?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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beyond monochrome

Beyond Monochrome It’s a Different World

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Do you see everything in black and white? Is the light on or off? Is it day or night? Once we’ve moved beyond monochrome things quickly become much more subjective.

In the mid-1980’s I was a computer programmer. Jokingly, I often ask people to not hold that against me. Largely, I loved my job. In the future, my path became much different.

Much has changed since my monochrome coding days.

Simple as Black and White

Back in the day you wrote code mostly using either Amber or Green monochrome screens.

The ability to understand how to make a single alphabetic character or numeral appear on the screen was a big accomplishment. When you could write code to draw a box on the screen you had highly advanced skills in the audience of most people.

While things seemed more complex, they were actually simpler. Choices were limited and people readily accepted the ability of the technology to do volumes of work previously unable to be accomplished in a timely manner by human personnel.

There wasn’t the argument over which tone of blue you were using. Nobody wanted their picture cleaned up before using it in the software application. Security was only about not giving someone your password. Simple.

Beyond Monochrome

Today it is a lot more complex. Everything is much more subjective.

This change is probably good, yet it is not without controversy. The improvements help bring our World to life, provide more meaning, and add more value.

It all costs. It costs us to learn the important skills of collaboration and conflict management. We have to communicate better, be more efficient and at the same time discover deeper forms of patience.

Opinions are often offered, not out of an attempt to be difficult, but because we have options.

Monochrome feels nice until we experience and appreciate life on the other side.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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small business bliss

Small Business Bliss and the Entrepreneur Myth

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Small business bliss may be an attractive option. It is definitely a shiny object for some. I’m often asked about entrepreneurship and owning a small consulting firm. Is small business ownership for you?

The Entrepreneur as a Consultant

The consulting field has often been viewed as desirable since the cost of entry is low. The idea is, hang a shingle (or throw up a web page) and you’re in business.

In practice things are not always that simple. A consulting business may seem like an attractive shiny object, in reality it may be a different story.

The other view is that people who can’t get a “real job” start a consulting practice. This view point often develops because some white-collar executives or technical experts lose a job and then struggle to find a replacement, so they start consulting.

In the for what it is worth category, this is not how I started. I made a conscious decision to leave a solid job and start my practice.

In a thriving economy, the lure to start a business is strong. That is, it is strong for the true entrepreneur. Those persons who want to consciously start a venture, not so much for those who only consider it when the chips are down.

There are many hard lessons for small businesses and entrepreneurship. There are also a fair amount of myths (here are ten) about earning a living doing this type of work.

Small Business Bliss

Today the shiniest objects glow even stronger because the assumed funnel is so big.

I’m going to start a video blog.

My goal is to create a unique podcast.

I can sell these on the internet.

Certainly, the world-wide-web is an ocean of opportunity, yet very few find true success there.

In sales, the discussion is often structured around the sales funnel.

Yes, our on-line world seems to broaden the funnel. The reality is that finding your lost goldfish in the ocean is a difficult task.

Even with eyes-wide-open.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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convenient work

Convenient Work, Is This What You Do?

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Modern conveniences have made many things, well, more convenient. Is your job becoming more about convenient experiences? Is convenient work what you do?

Many people wonder about the future of machine learning and A.I. (artificial intelligence). Will my work be eliminated or will people embrace newer forms of technology?

The easy answer to both is, “Yes!”

Embracing Technology is Convenient

Certainly, there will be resistors to technology change. However, when technology changes make things easier or more convenient it is likely that people will participate.

The Keurig coffee maker is one about convenience. It has been popular and embraced by many. Not everyone, but many.

Streaming video for home television entertainment? Embraced.

The smartphone. Embraced.

It doesn’t take long to recognize we’ve shifted to areas of convenience.

Modern travel is a great example. You could take a train from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to San Jose, California, but why would you?

You could write down directions to get a hotel two States away when driving in your car, or you might use a navigation device built into your car or through your smartphone.

Traveling by air you can print your boarding pass, or utilize a QR Code on your phone. Once on the ground at your destination you can hail a cab, schedule a Lyft, Uber, or perhaps a shuttle. Most will do this with a smartphone app. The more information you provide to the app, the better your experience will be.

Convenient Work

There are at least two sides to convenience. There is the side that makes it better for you when you participate and there is the side that means someone else may be getting squeezed out of the picture.

Receptionists were once popular. In fact, some could earn a decent living and meet a lot of people in the process. Today, many of these jobs have been eliminated or minimized by technology.

In many places the same is true for the toll both clerk, the gas station attendant, and the store checkout cashier.

Is the work that you are doing replaceable by technology? Will technology change our lives?

Yes!

Jobs will change because we’ll participate. We’ll participate because it is convenient.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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robot work

Robot Work is Important Work

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Do you feel like all you do is robot work? The work that is mindless but still needs to get accomplished?

Some people hire more assistants for this work. There is even an entire marketplace for virtual assistants who work remote. Some of them are available from other countries at a very low price.

Robot Work

It is important to remember that many businesses need human robots. They need the box packer, the floor sweeper, and the paper or digital file administrator. Businesses need humans to interface with the customer, answer telephone calls, provide direction, and process email and orders.

In manufacturing environments, they need machine watchers, product movers, and quality inspectors.

There is a threat however, the threat is the replacement of human robots with technology applications.

If you believe this is real or possible then you may want to consider how you’ll navigate and position yourself for the future.

And for the business, if you’re not moving forward with technology, you’ll likely find a challenge emerging with finding human robots.

On the scale the lines are merging and will eventually crisscross with the human robots declining and the technology advancements growing.

Old news, really.

Two Choices

There are two choices for the business. One choice is to continue to fight the trend and put an enormous amount of effort into search, hire, and retain. The other choice is be more strategic and make the necessary technology investments.

There are two choices for the human robot. There is a choice to move with the flow. Attempt to stay as relevant as possible and outlast the wave of technology. Another choice is to be a front runner to work with the requirements of the organization and be the leader for change.

A box packer is a human robot. An engineer is someone who helps the organization find a better way.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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good jobs

Good Jobs Are Not For Robots. Not Yet.

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Are human jobs at your organization in jeopardy? What are the good jobs?

Ask a group of people if they believe things in the World around us are rapidly changing, and many will say, “Yes.”

Automating Job Tasks

In nearly all business sectors humans are being replaced by machines. You can go to a movie theater, a retail store, or to a bank and you’ll find jobs being replaced by machines.

It is nothing really new. Have you ever used a car wash or an ATM?

Vending machines have origins back to the late 1800’s. Since at least the 1940’s you have been able to drop some money in a Coke machine and get a Coke. Some sales transactions haven’t required a human to do each and every task for more than a century.

In manufacturing environments efficiency, speed, and accuracy are paramount. Human jobs are being replaced, yet again, this is nothing new.

Some suggest the replacement is because of a lack of skilled labor. Yet, having the skill to add or subtract, file a piece of paper alphabetically, or move the box to the freight truck is easily automated.

Also automated are job skills connected to welding, gluing, and machining. Are those labor skills?

Yes, our World is changing. What are the best jobs?

Good Jobs

Job security really exists most in the platform of projects and not tasks.

Granted, you may be able to proclaim that a project is made up of many tasks but the task will likely be the first victim of automation.

Still today projects largely require human intervention. The human must think, act, and decide about how things will proceed. A task itself may be completed by a machine, but often only after human intervention has made the choice to put the machine into action.

When we query the data, that’s an automated task. Using the Keurig to make a coffee, is some form of an automated task. That remote car starter on your key chain, yes, an automated task.

Good jobs are for the project manager, not the task doer. Slowly bit by bit, tasks are being replaced by machines. It is nothing new. Only it is happening faster and faster as great minds strive to do more in less time or with less effort and more accuracy.

Good jobs are still out there. Human to human transactions still have value over human to machine in many ways. Only it is about navigating projects and not about doing tasks.

At least for now.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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powerful culture

Building a Powerful Culture or Watching Things Fade

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We have much more power today, as compared with twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. Are you or the organization you work for taking advantage of the opportunities to build a powerful culture?

Is it possible? Are the opportunities there?

What’s Changed?

Forty years ago, much of the mainstream view for a career was to secure solid employment with a well-known or reputable company. The idea of job security and working your way up the ladder was prominent.

Forty years ago, people who were mid-career would likely stay for the duration. For many, that was the safe bet and the honorable and loyal way to a well-respected career.

Today, things are largely a bit different. Certainly, there are still pockets of organizations and people who commit for long-term mutually loyal employment relationships. However, many suggest the mainstream view point has changed.

Many organizational cultures are stuck somewhere in the middle. They are stuck between the identity of an image of being a DuPont, Colgate, or JP Morgan Chase, and the lure of a hot startup.

What has really changed is the power of innovation, technology, and opportunity.

Powerful Culture

People and organizations alike have the power to get things moving. They have the power to communicate to the world, one post at a time. The power to make a difference for others, to build something new, or to shape their own future.

What do they do?

More people read posts rather than create them. YouTube has many more viewers than they have content creators.

What is at stake? Is it the risk of criticism, ridicule, or embarrassment? What keeps people stuck, only watching, and seldom engaging? The opportunity is there.

Organizations can break ground, lead the charge, and become a best in class, but instead many choose to stay stuck, follow the competition, and shoot for becoming number two.

Powerful cultures are built by the pursuit of opportunity.

Forty years ago, shopping malls were a bit hit, so were VHS tapes, and landline telephones.

What changed?

What will you do?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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excellence cost

What Does Excellence Cost?

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Many individuals and businesses strive for excellence. It is an admirable goal. Does excellence have a price? What does excellence cost?

It seems that there may be many potential ways to measure the cost of excellence. We can consider hours spent, hard costs such as tools or equipment, and perhaps the opportunity cost of trading one thing for another.

Popular Pursuits

Businesses may strive to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and have fewer than one defective part in every million produced. All good and meaningful goals.

What is the cost? Often argued is that costs are improved. Less waste, faster, and better-quality results in more profit. We can do the math on those costs to get to the end result. Are there other costs?

History Teaches

Perhaps post-industrial revolution we have some remnants of excellence. Things like John Deere tractors, Ford automobiles, and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

These are all companies that pushed hard for excellence. Perhaps long before manufacturing developed catchy terms and acronyms for process control. Even well before Toyota existed.

So, what about John Deere, Ford, and Harley Davidson? What price did they pay for excellence? Many have studied the Ford story, some have looked closer at John Deere and Harley Davidson. What are the lessons learned?

Are the lessons tighter controls, stricter specifications, and appropriate treatment of the human side of the business? Certainly, yes. Are there other lessons?

Excellence Cost

In your career or in your business have you thought about the costs of excellence? Not the tangible costs, but the intangibles?

Much of the best innovation, product development, and future growth doesn’t spring up from tight systems and restricted movement. It doesn’t happen when the mindset is to attain perfection and never change.

Preaching continuous improvement is a paradox when the real rules are no deviations.

Even the best sometimes struggle to get out of their own way.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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